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Monday, August 26, 2013

Flying nuclear reactors?

Really!  When we decided to stop here in Arco we had no idea what attractions were in the area.  Well one of the neatest things is Arco was the first town to be powered by nuclear energy.  There is the Idaho National Lab that built the world's first breeder reactor and to prove that it was a viable energy source connected the output to the town of Arco.  Today we toured the decommissioned original #1 reactor and the #2 reactor.  Really interesting to see how Mr. Fermi developed the concept and Mr. Zinn put it to a practical use.  Too bad that breeder reactors are outlawed by international convention.  It is really a neat and very safe concept.  They even have the radioactive material from 3 Mile Island stored here.
A flying nuclear reactor prototype

Lead lined locomotive used to pull the reactors for testing

Another flying reactor prototype

When I was a kid I was very interested in science and read everything I could, especially Popular Science.  I remember articles on breeder reactors but had no idea I would get to see the place where they were developed.  Another thing I remember was the concept of a nuclear powered airplane.  Well they started developing one here.  There are 2 different nuclear reactors on display outside.  The reactor heated the air to spin a turbine to produce thrust.  The reactors were a success but the project was discontinued as it was thought to be unsafe to have a flying reactor.  The 2 examples were huge, but I'm sure would be miniaturized if they were ever put into an airplane.  There is also a lead lined locomotive they used to haul the reactors out into the desert for testing.  Really was an interesting tour.

A few days ago we rode the RZR up above Mackay to tour the old mines.  Had a nice day riding even rode over a really old railroad trestle.  We even found a neat little cave in a canyon that had smoke stains in the ceiling.

Then yesterday we rode from the campground out to Wood Canyon.  We went up to 8400 feet riding through a tree lined canyon then up and up to a gorgeous overlook.  It was another great day here in Idaho.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Number Hill?

Well our 3 weeks at North Fork are about up.  We spent the day riding the truck around the countryside enjoying the views.  We'll be glad to get down to Arco where we should have cell service and better internet.  We'll say goodbye and good luck to some dear friends.  They are having engine trouble so will take their time driving to a repair shop in Spokane.  We're heading south.

The drive followed the Salmon River about 70 miles and was just an incredibly beautiful drive.  Very curvy with 35mph and 25mph curves around the river bends.  Mountains on either side, just gorgeous.  The rest of the drive was through the Lost River valley with a few hard climbs then descents down to the valley.  The campground is really nice with huge sites, and free egg and pancake breakfast each morning.  Pretty nice for the price and very good food.
The view from our site overlooks Number Hill.  Back in 1920 the graduating class  decided to climb the mountain and paint their class year on the cliff edges.  Since then each graduating class has followed suit.  Pretty impressive!

Saturday we took the RZR through town and drove up to King Mountain Launch Site.  Para-gliders use this to launch and fly around the area at 8100 feet.  Great view overlooking the little town of Moore.  As we were driving down we saw a truck climbing to one of the sites so we followed them.  As luck would have it there were 3 guys and a girl that set up and launched.  Really neat to be so close as they took off.

Earlier that morning we attempted a hike to Natural Arch.  This was at 7000 feet and turned out to be a very steep hike through loose rock.  We made it about halfway then turned around.  Not enough oxygen up there for us.

Today we drove over to Craters of the Moon National Monument.  A 2000 year old lava flow.  We hiked up to the top of a dome for an overlook of the area.  Then hiked to some caves and explored a bit.

Tomorrow we'll haul the RZR to Mackay and take the gold mine trails.  Should be another great day.
Tonight we were able to FaceTime with Scott, Bevi, Ella, and her "little sister to be".  It was really nice to see them.  We really felt so isolated at North Fork without cell service.
Last night we face timed with Mike and Jessica and saw his new house.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What day is it?

Yes, it's kinda hard keeping up with the days.  The weather has been really nice, in the mid 40's to 50's at night and up to mid 80's late in the afternoon.  Only had rain one day.
We spent a quiet day celebrating our 35th anniversary.  Wow, 35 years?  And living the lifestyle of my dreams with my beautiful wife!  Can it get any better?
Then Cindy celebrated her birthday with some new friends here while we went out for pizza.
And we've been riding the Rzr.  A couple days ago we rode out to a local hot springs then up into the mountains and over to the headwaters of the Missouri river.  I stepped on two rocks with one foot in Montana and the other in Idaho with the beginnings of the Missouri river between my feet and could almost see the Gulf of Mexico.  I even thought I heard a river tug blowing its horn….
All in all it was a very nice day spent riding with new friends exploring the history of this area.

Today we rode out to Wallace lake.  Wow, what an absolutely beautiful and peaceful place.  There was a small campground there with a guy and his grand kids.  He said he has been coming here for 60 years!
The lake was so quiet and luckily the wind was barely blowing so that I was able to get some nice pictures showing the mountains reflected in the water.  We spent about an hour just enjoying the peace and quiet then drove on further.

We went looking for the abandoned town of Leesburg which supposedly has 40 old buildings.  Unfortunately after finding the road there was a fence across the road blocking us.  It looked like there was an area of reclaimed ground from an old mine and no way to get across it.  Oh well maybe another day.